Hashtag Deep Dive
I’ve spent hours, literally hours over the last two days researching hashtags. Who the hell knew this was a thing?
The bottom line is to be successful in business, you have to reach an audience. But that’s not as easy as it sounds. First, if you’re scope is too big, then you are just a small fish in a giant lake. But if your scope is too small, there’s not enough market to support you. So you have to find the right market niche, big enough to support you, but small enough for you to stand out. Hashtags are a good way to do that.
What is a hashtag?
If you don’t know what a hashtag is, its those words or phrases that begin with “#”. Things like #success and #business. They’re ways to categorize content so users can easily search for them. For instance, you’ll see them all the time on Instagram, where almost every post uses them. A creator adds the hashtag, then users search them for things they are interested in.
More importantly, once the platform learns a user’s interests, it feeds them content with similar to others they’ve viewed and liked based on the hashtag associated. So, by using the right hashtags on your own content, you ensure the various algorithms out there put your content in front of your target audience. But first you have to figure out what the right hashtags are.
Since people search content by hashtag, using the right ones can get you in front of the right people, but that means you have research all the possible word combinations, who looks at them, who posts to them and what they post, and does that content match what you want to provide as your business.
(Yeah, I know that sentence was just a stream of thought, but that’s where I’m at mentally right now.)
The first step is to find the right words or phrases to use. Its exhausting! Certain words are used by everyone all time. For example, “#success” currently has over 72 million posts on Instagram. So, using that one might get my content in front of a lot of people, but the vast majority of them won’t be interested in my specific content. But “#successfulliving” only has 218,000 posts, a smaller more targeted audience.
That’s just the beginning.
THEN you have to figure out who are the “influencers” (accounts with more than 10,000 followers) using those hashtags. This is important, because as a small business, I don’t have the resources to hire an ad agency to do all this research and create content. Real live people who achieve influencer status usually do so by hitting all the right buttons “organically”, sometimes without even understanding what it is they did.
From there, I have to weed through those influencers and find ones whos style of content I can mimic. Basically, reverse engineering what works, but with some self-awareness. I’m a white man nearing 50, so copying the style of a 20-something Asian woman probably won’t win me many followers.
All this is before I even begin thinking about creating a post.
What’s the point?
To have a successful online business, you need to market online. The internet is affordable and easy to access, and thanks to modern technology, its in the hands of billions of people in every demographic all around the world. At the same time, every business from the single mom next-door to multi-billion dollar international mega-corps are using the same platforms to advertise. thus, doing it wrong can be a waste of time and money.
In the past, I’ve posted content with dozens of hashtags, just guessing at what will get me views and drive traffic to my sight, and not gotten much in the way of results.
Now I understand why: everyone in the same market is using the same tags! Mine is just one of thousands of similar posts out there, a drop in the ocean.
The goal of all this not just getting views and likes, its getting website visits (a.k.a. traffic) and converting those into a mailing list signups, which I can then sell to.
I’m not Amazon, I can’t spend millions on advertising with the latest research and best creators. I need to spend my money the most effective way I can, which means targeting my audience as effectively as I can before I spend money on an ad. Hashtag research lets me do that.
By the time I’m ready to put paid ad on social media, I’ll know exactly what tags to use and how to design my ad to best appeal to my targeted audience. I won’t just be throwing money at the problem and hoping something works.
If you’ve tried social media marketing with hashtags, what’s been your experience? What worked and didn’t work for you? Leave a comment and let me know.
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